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For centuries, dogs and humans have had an inexplicably close relationship.
You love your dog and always want to show it to them. Your dog loves you back and he always wants to show it to you.
But there is often a huge hurdle: dogs don’t speak human and humans don’t speak dog.
As such, we communicate with our dogs through signs and actions. And quite often, the actions and signs might be misconstrued. For instance, what does it mean when your dog brings you socks?
Dogs are very intelligent and they can tell when their owner is in distress. And as a way of demonstrating their love and affection, they will instinctively bring you things they like to play with which will include toys and you guessed it, socks.
When your dog brings you socks (or toys), it’s his way of saying they understand you are in pain and they are doing whatever is in their power to help alleviate it.
Research has established that dogs and humans are connected in such a deep way that the relationship is not just based on the fact that they depend on humans for provision.
This is why dogs use certain gestures like rolling over to communicate with humans.
Some studies have even suggested that dogs can try to make faces in a bid to appear cute to inspire their owner to do things for them.
Do Dogs Respond To Humans In Distress?
We’ve seen it in the movies. A house catches on fire and someone passes out in a room that is getting engulfed in the flames.
It looks like a hopeless situation—until his dog jumps out the window and signals the firemen to follow him to the room where they find the unconscious man and manage to pull him out seconds before the roof caves in.
But can this happen in real life?
Well, it can. And there is scientific evidence to back it too. A study by Emily Sanford (a brain and psychology scientist) established that dogs can discern when humans are in emotional distress.
Interestingly, almost any dog can tell when humans are in distress but not all dogs will lend a helping paw.
A dog will only help someone they love which is why dogs often try to help their owners by doing anything in their power to help—even if it is just bringing things like pillows, toys, and even socks.
But even without the scientific evidence, every dog owner knows that dogs always feel when they are in pain.
For instance, when you get back home after a long day, your dog will readily sit next to you and lick your face.
That in itself is enough proof that dogs are always eager to help.
Dogs Understand Gift-Giving
Even though gift-giving is not practiced by all dogs, some love greeting their owners with a gift in their mouth.
This is usually their favorite toy, so it is also possible that if they love playing with your socks, they will greet you with socks in their mouth.
Therefore, if you are not in any distress and your dog brings you socks, just know the dog is trying to give you a gift.
Canines have a natural habit of retrieving and hiding items and this comes in handy when hunting.
For instance, a wild dog carries his prey and caches his meals almost the same way a squirrel hides nuts all over the woods for emergencies. A wolf mother will always return home with prey for her cubs.
We can therefore infer that it’s this intrinsic quality of canines that makes your domesticated dog continue with the retrieving habit.
But it is not purely natural—some of this behavior can be blamed on our breeding tactics.
Years of selective breeding have led to breeds that love fetching stuff. For instance, Retrievers know how to “soft mouth” prey and hand it over to the hunter.
Similarly, most Terriers were bred to kill small vermin, so whenever they bring socks to you, they are responding to an innate desire to carry things back to their owners.
But even though the gift-giving ability of dogs can be blamed on genes, it might not always be the case. More often than not, dogs just want to make you happy.
Nothing matches the feeling of your dog greeting you at the door with a toy in his mouth—and sometimes, he will bring you your socks instead of a toy. And it is his way of expressing love and affection.
What about Stealing Socks?
Some people complain that their dogs keep stealing and chewing on their socks.
Anyone who has gone through this will find it hard to associate the gesture of their dog bringing them socks with affection.
Seeing the dog with the socks in their mouth conjures up memories of torn and lost socks and that can easily aggravate even the calmest of souls.
But understanding why dogs “steal” your socks can help you deal with the situation better.
Dogs have an inbuilt instinct to scavenge and this desire doesn’t just ebb away because they are domesticated.
Before they got domesticated, dogs would rely on this instinct to sniff out prey and toys like bones to play with. So, some dogs will instinctively steal and hide things that appeal to them.
Socks almost always come top on their list of laundry items to steal. This is because dogs naturally love soft things—this is why wild dogs are naturally drawn to rats, rabbits, and other furry creatures for prey.
Apart from the resemblance with furry animals, your dog might also steal your socks because they have your scent.
Your dog might enjoy chewing on your socks because it resembles the texture of their favorite small furry prey.
Dogs have an advanced sense of smell—scientists estimate that the dog’s sense of smell is 10,000-100,000 times better than that of humans.
If a dog picks up your scent on your socks (or any other piece of clothing), they figure that it must be important.
Some dogs will assume you left it to them as a gift while others will think you lost it and they will return it to you.
Your dog will bring you socks for three reasons.
First, they do it when they sense your pain and are trying to comfort you.
Secondly, dogs show their affection by giving you gifts and socks might just be as good a gift to them.
Lastly, dogs can pick up your scent on the socks and they will figure that the socks must be important to you.